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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Quick Hits for the Week 2

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for beating the Texas Rangers in seven games to take the 2011 World Series. It went down to the final game of the regular season to determine if the Cardinals would even make the playoffs, making their victory all the sweeter for them and their fans. It is also an affirmation for the concept of the wildcard. Exciting post seasons like this are proof positive that MLB made the right decision in implementing the extra teams in the playoffs, and make the idea of adding a second wildcard in each league a compelling issue to consider.

I have obviously done no official polling or canvassing, but from my friends and what I see on social media sites, announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver appear to be nearly universally hated. How have they managed to escape focus groups over the years? With all the money that Fox has, is that really they can do for baseball announcers? 

Buck comes across as pompous and very plastic-like, while McCarver’s bumpkin/senility routine is really grating. I wouldn’t want to watch a game next to the likes of them in the stands, and I certainly don’t want them doing the play-by-play when I have a game on the tv. Every time I watch a nationally televised game and see that they are the announcers, I literally groan. I found myself watching most of this year’s World Series with the sound muted, so I could make it through each game. 

One thought would be to bring in the best announcers to call World Series games. This would be similar to how umpires are chosen to officiate in the playoffs. While some announcers might be contractually precluded from being a part of this, baseball fans would love to see the likes of Vin Scully and Joe Castiglione calling the biggest games of the year. It would be an exciting wrinkle to add to the World Series, and a way to draw in more fans whose team might not be competing for the championship.

Jerry DiPoto was just hired to be the next general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. This means that the first major league female GM will have to keep waiting, as Kim Ng, an MLB executive and finalist for the position, did not make the final cut. In an industry constantly seeking new ways to gain a competitive edge, it is shocking that the gender barrier has not yet been broken when it comes to baseball’s GMs. 

Team’s are willing to follow obscure statistics, use shrinks, and mine talent from the furthest reaches of the globe to field what they will believe will be the best team possible, but for some reason, hiring a woman hasn’t occurred to them as being a new and bright idea. Perhaps Ng was not the right fit for the Arizona job, but it is long overdue for a woman to run a major league team.

The 25th anniversary of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series just passed. It is nice to see the positive attention that Bill Buckner is finally getting. The scapegoat burden he has borne for more than two decades defies logic. He did not lose the World Series for Boston. Buckner’s infamous error came in a tie game, and Boston still got to play a Game 7 (a game where Buckner had two hits and a run scored). 

Other players, like Bob Stanley and his wild pitch that preceded the error, escaped the type of scrutiny Buckner and his family has endured for so long.  Buckner’s baseball career will always be defined by that one error, which is a shame. Nobody seems to remember that he had 2715 career base hits, more than players like Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio. Also lost was Buckner’s value to Boston in 1986. He was one of their best players all season, and gritted through the playoffs despite being in bad pain from a bad back, and suffering an Achilles injury that caused him to wear specially designed high-top shoes. Here’s hoping that he can finally gain back some of the respect for his career that he deserves.


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